Thoughts on Social TV for 2013

Plus a round-up of the latest 2nd screen round-ups in one easy post.

In the never-ending quest to catch-up on reading, I came across several ´round-ups´ of the Second Screen Space pre- and post- CES which got me thinking. So instead of re-inventing the wheel, here in one handy post you can access what the top 20 thinkers in social TV and second screen have to say, thoughts on what will happen in the coming year in the second screen space as well as the main apps to keep an eye on.

While culling through all this material, and there certainly is a lot of informed writing on the topic, one can only dream about how big a business this might become. Indeed, at CES the Second Screen Society dedicated a day to discussing the topic, which they seem to do at least every quarter, and no doubt CES was a further accelerator for this very active group lead by Chuck Parker. Indeed they have just announced new ´definitive´ research including an infographic that documents the state of the business and projections over a five year period which, they say, sees this space growing from $490 million today to a $5.9 billion business by 2017.

Sounds sexy indeed, but I have been following the topic for over one year now, and the sheer explosion of apps draws out the skeptic in me. In one interesting post by one of the ´top thinkers´, Alan Wolk of Kit Digital puts forward five common sense observations, among them being the simple fact that people are, erm, watching TV while they watch TV.  To my mind, if they are playing with their second screen, they are more likely to be  on Facebook or futilely attempting to keep up with their data overload. Alan says things which I had dared not say out loud, but I for one am grateful to see some common sense.

The future of the second screen space boils down to a few simple points. First, it is obviously an enormous opportunity. Second, countless start-ups will crash and burn, and amongst them it´s a lottery as to who will end up succeeding.  Third, at the end of the day, just a few major platforms will emerge as the dominant players, and they will have sucked up the diamond bright start-ups into their own machine. Of course that is what the start-up game is about. It´s not rocket science that we need billion-dollar research to figure out. And fourth, some patience is needed, during with time copious amounts of cash will speed down the drain until this space settles down.

Certainly I admit to good old curiosity and looking up something about an actor or topic I see while watching TV. But to go so far as to download a dedicated second screen app, from an app company, a content provider, a broadcaster, an Apple or other huge player, at least to my mind it´s a stretch too far right now. I can however wax lyrical on the secret sauce that drives those apps – the metadata engines behind them, and the cool mash-ups derived from multiple sources of data and clever innovations in technology. It´s these things – and great UX design – that will ultimately sort the winners from the losers.

Meantime, digital social developments unfold at an unfathomable pace. I spent an entire dreary London weekend trying to tame  my bookmarks and social media log-ins. It does looks like I´m on the way to joining the Legion of Shameless Self Promotion. It´s so de rigeur these days but really who has the energy or nerve to try and stand out amongst all this noise? Who has the time to be all the time online, managing all these identities let alone creating great ´unique´ content that the search engines will love?

It´s tricky. Having spent hours in an attempt to earnestly absorb information about how to manage my multiple Sybil-like identities via a ´social media dashboard´, I emerged 100% baffled. That´s not because I didn´t understand or spend enough time with it, it´s just that there really is no one tool out there that will indeed let you post across multiple platforms without multiple ´catches´ and exceptions to the rule.

To add insult to injury on top of the second screen lists of ´things to watch´ a whole new breed of social networks are emerging, so a few more things to keep track of. One begins to wonder about future calls for social media interoperability and identity portability, if they are not happening already. Honestly I cannot be bothered to look one more thing up. I´m too busy trying to remember my Twitter password half the time. Though I did find a new solution for password management, something of a breakthrough at least was accomplished this weekend, but the effort was not without some cost! (I have not left the house for three days and counting). Good thing it´s miserable outside.

Maybe I´m alone in this. But I suspect not.  What are your experiences? How much time to you spend online? Tell me, really, do you ever stand up? And by the time you get in front of the TV set, are you really still itching to be connected?

Janet Greco